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Middle East deployment a journey of discovery

Middle East deployment a journey of discovery

Middle East deployment a journey of discovery

Major Garry Johnson says his relationship with God has deepened since being deployed to the Middle East.

By Major Garry Johnson*

In October 2019, I was deployed as the Sallyman to support Australian Defence Force personnel on various operations in the Middle East. This gave me the opportunity to discover more about myself and about God.

I was in a country where faith is an important part of everyday life, affecting all interactions with the local community and promoted by all government departments.

Being woken by the call to prayer each morning before sunrise and having mosques at service stations and in shopping centres made me think about my own faith journey and how secular our country had become. Faith is very much an individual thing in Australia. We see that it is tolerated in much of public life but not encouraged.

To be in an ancient land where much of the Bible took place, to see the countryside and the arid desert, I discovered a deeper understanding of much of the cultural significance in the Scriptures – the difficulty of travel and security, and the importance of hospitality and family. God was there and interacted with the people living their everyday life. He lived with them through Jesus, who taught them about the Eternal One, who created them and the world, who was rejected but not willing to give up on his creation.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to look beyond the everyday to the bigger picture. Each person on deployment has tasks – many mundane daily tasks – but all are important in achieving the bigger objective. I was there to be able to support people, to see their value and encourage them to a deepening understanding of their own faith journey; to explore the Bible and the deeper questions of life.

I am not the same person who left Australia. I experienced God in a new way. God is at work in his world and in the lives of all people. Even when we reject him, he does not give up on us. He continues to love us and provide for us.

Since I have come home to the COVID-19 situation – to isolation and social distancing – I am again reminded of how blessed we are in this country. Even with the current situation, we live in a bountiful land where food and security are readily available and we all have the opportunity to consider God in our life journey.

We need to remember and pray for those who are suffering and struggling at this time all around the world and how we can support and encourage our families and friends at this time to take God on the journey we are on.

Major Garry Johnson is The Salvation Army Red Shield Defence Services representative at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville



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